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Old Apr 3, 2010, 2:27 PM   #1
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Default Budget macro

Hi all,

probably this has been asked already somewhere on the forum.. but I'm still not clear what to do.
Not long ago I bought the Pentax K-x with the 18-55 and the 50-200 kit lenses. However I would like to be able to do some "macro-ing"
But there are some many products in so many price ranges, and besides the normal macro objectives there's also the extension tubes, zoom rings etc.

Who can help me figuring out a nice macro setup for a beginning photographer, i intend to spend max $100 on it initially.

Your help is very much appreciated.

Regards,

Carlo
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 5:13 PM   #2
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Are you looking to do 1:1 or just hand held macro. For hand held macro, you can get a tamaron 70-300mm LD DI, it is not that expensive. But it will stretch your budget by 50 dollars.

If you were out to do pure 1:1, a dedicated macro lens would be a good option. The pentax, sigma, or tamron macro lenses are very good.

There a pros and cons with extension tube. It will give you even greater magnification depending on the lenght, but with a short range lens, it limits your working distance. So it is better to use a tube with a longer lens like a 100mm. I recently tried a tube with a 35mm lens, and there was just not enough working distance between the subject and the lens. But if you put a tube on the pentax 55-300mm it would be kinda fun actually. But I am not sure if you will still AF with a tube.

But if you want to take a regular photo, if adds the extra step of taking off the lens, then the tube, and remounting the lens. Also with a tube, depending on the make. It may not work with any Aperture or AF system. While a macro lens can be used as a regular lens right away.

So I would consider a macro lens over a tube. It is a nicer and simpler system to use.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 10:37 PM   #3
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There are a couple of ways to go for under $100, but the results will be somewhat limited. The two lenses you have are good for normal things, but not the greatest for macro, where you need every bit of sharpness you can get.

Can you deal with manual focus? It's best to manually focus when shooting macro - AF systems can get confused and your depth of field is so tiny at 1:1 that a leaf on the ground can be out of focus if the camera focuses on the ground instead of the leaf.

If so, then I might suggest you buy two things. First, a Pentax SMC M 50mm f1.7 lens. It's a manual focus/manual exposure lens which is more work. However, you can often find them for well under $100, it's a sharp lens and it would give you a fast lens for low light. Then find the cheapest 2X teleconverter you can find. It can be an old, manual TC and have lousy glass (I've heard of people bidding 1.00 or under and getting it so you'll be getting it for the cost of shipping). Manual because you'll be using a manual lens. Lousy glass because when you get it you'll take the glass out of it. That becomes your extension tube. I started playing with macro that way. And I still use the 50 mm lens occasionally reversed in front of my macro lens, for even more magnification. And the home-made extension tube still gets used occasionally for the same purpose.

Or look on ebay for proper extension tubes to use with either of the two kit lenses - just make sure that they have electronic contacts so your camera can still talk to the lens. Many K-mount extension tubes (ones that fit Pentax cameras) don't have them so you wouldn't be able to control the aperture - they work fine with lenses that have aperture rings, but not with the two lenses you have (which don't have them).

One of the biggest disadvantage of extension tubes is that they cut light, which makes it harder to use a reasonable shutter speed without a flash.

If you want to spend more money there's some close-focus add-on lenses, but good ones cost almost as much as a dedicated macro lens. You can try dioper filters you sometimes see in camera stores if you can get them cheaply enough. Don't expect great results with them - they are usually not precision made and you'll be using them on lenses that aren't the sharpest to begin with. But if you don't have much money invested in them, they might get you a foot in the door.

If you are looking for used lenses, see if you can find a Phoenix (or Promaster or someone else also sold the same lens but I can't remember who) 100 mm macro. It's made by Cosina and is made of light-weight plastic. The lens new ran $100 - $150 so it shouldn't be that expensive used. The optics are very good, much better than you'd expect with a lens this cheap. A dedicated macro lens is definitely a much easier way to do things.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 9:01 AM   #4
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Hi thank you for the replies.
Indeed I've been looking for a second hand cosina/vivitar/phoenix 100mm macro lens already, however they are not sold a lot
Also the Tamron 70-300 has been a lens of interest, however just outside my budget
So maybe it's best to find a second hand Pentax SMC M 50mm f1.7 lens with a cheap 2x teleconverter.. just to get started with taking some macro pictures.
Btw I found this: telelens Tokina 80-200mm 1:4 + Sigma tele-macro 2x-1:1 secondhand and maybe I can get it for a nice price... is that any good for making macro's?

Thanks again
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 12:19 PM   #5
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Have you look on ebay for a used tamron 70-300 DI LD. They are pretty cheap there.

The 50mm with a 2x will shorten your working distance.

Sorry I do not know much about the tokina lens set up you mention.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 12:57 PM   #6
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I've been looking for the tamron on ebay however no luck.
Would the tamron be a good replacement for the 50-200 kitlens I already have? If that's true I could sell the kitlens and maybe buy a new tamron.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 4:35 PM   #7
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It is a pretty good lens, and could replace you 55-200mm. But that also leaves you a bit of a gap form 55-70mm. You may or may not miss it.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 5:56 PM   #8
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Yeah your right,

I should probably just wait for a nice secondhand offer to come by. I'm not in a hurry. Still need to get familiar with my camera
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 10:10 PM   #9
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I don't know anything about that Tokina lens. I've seen samples of pictures taken with an f2.8 version that look very good, but suspect this lens isn't in the same class. The TC sounds like it would work with a lens with an aperture ring, I can't tell from your description whether it has contacts for passing information or not. If they are being sold together by one person you probably wouldn't have trouble with them working right together. It might be worth looking at if you can get them very cheap. Also make sure the lens is a K-mount lens and not an M42 lens. I would think that using an M42 lens as a macro lens would be very frustrating because it mounts with an adaptor the camera can't stop down the lens like it can with a manual K-mount lens.
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 4:45 AM   #10
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Default The Poorman's Macro: Cosina 100 F3.5 macro lens

Hi JC,
Here's a link to a review of the Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro lens that Harriet mentioned earlier. You'll find versions by Phoenix, Vivitar, Promaster, and probably others, but they're all made by Cosina. For a cheap macro that gives 1:1 (with it's companion matched supplementary lens) it gives excellent results.
There are 2 versions a manual and an AF model, the manual version is preferred by most macro shooters (comments in the review re. the AF version)
I have this lens and find it's performance, on a par with most far more expensive macro lenses. ... Jack

http://www.dyxum.com/columns/article...cro_review.asp

Edit:- the thought just struck me ... My avatar picture was shot with this lens.

Last edited by jachol; Apr 5, 2010 at 4:48 AM. Reason: Add comment
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